| News in Review
The following news reports are by the Irish American Information
Service, Irish American Post staffers and other news organizations.
LOYALIST ASSUMED DEAD
IN FEUD CONTINUATION
The distraught mother of a missing Belfast loyalist feared murdered
said today she accepted she would probably never see him alive again.
Alan McCullough, a former associate of jailed terror boss Johnny Adair,
vanished after leaving his home with two top paramilitaries six days ago.
The 21-year-old had only just returned from exile in England following
a power struggle within the Ulster Defense Association.
Even though he had been assured it was safe to come back, his mother
had pleaded with him not to trust the organization.
And as new appeals were made for the UDA to come clean about the suspected
killing, Barbara McCullough admitted her son was almost certainly dead.
She said: "We think the worst. There is very little hope."
Senior loyalist sources have confirmed the disappearance was directly
linked to the assassination of Adair`s main rival within the UDA, John
Gregg, near Belfast Docks in February.
Following the murder all members of Adair`s UDA C Coy were driven out
of their power base in West Belfast’s Lower Shankill estate and forced
to flee Northern Ireland.
Among those who boarded ferries bound for Scotland and England was McCullough,
who had been installed as military commander of the splinter C company
once Adair was returned to prison for allegedly igniting the vicious feud
which claimed four lives.
It is understood he thought it was safe to return to Belfast two weeks
ago after negotiations involving top members of the terror organization.
But he was summoned to attend a meeting with supporters of Gregg in
the UDA`s South East Antrim brigade area and has not been seen since. A
police manhunt has been launched, with divers dredging a reservoir in North
Belfast and removing a boat from Carrickfergus harbor in Co. Antrim for
Six men have been arrested, including at least one of those who called
at McCullough`s home in the Lower Shankill last Wednesday. But all have
been released without charge.
The detective heading up the investigation Chief Inspector Will Kerr
urged anyone within loyalism who knew what had happened to break their
He said: "It`s inhuman of certain sections of the community who have
more information they are not telling us. It`s inhuman of them not to tell
us anything that might help us find Alan or Alan`s body."
He added: "The family and I both believe Alan may have been killed."
For Mrs. McCullough, 50, the tragedy has reopened a heartache from her
In 1981 her husband William, a former UDA leader was murdered by the
INLA. "It`s just the same all over again. It`s just history repeating itself,"
she said today. It had been with a heavy heart that she agreed to back
her son`s decision to come home.
She said: "He said he was 200% and he trusted them completely. I had
to go with what Alan said but over the years I have come to trust nobody."
Family and friends in the tight-knit Shankill community have rallied to
her support as the days pass by, she added.
"There`s a lot of mothers with sons and they don`t know whose son is
going to be next."
Although the missing man was understood to have been a top paramilitary,
his mother said: "To me he`s a big softie. He tries to be hard when he`s
with the other ones but he`s our baby."
Mrs. McCullough also thought that her late husband`s standing within
the UDA would have counted in favor of her son, but now she said she realized
"We are just coming up against a blank wall, nobody wants to know. I
don`t know what kind of people we are dealing with but if they have any
humanity just give him up."
RESIGNATION OVER JT-DECLARATION
Senior Ulster Unionists have warned they may quit the party over British
and Irish government plans for the peace process because they "undermine
basic unionist principles", it was claimed today.
UUP honorary secretary Arlene Foster brushed off claims by former Stormont
minister Michael McGimpsey that anti-Good Friday Agreement unionists are
blackmailing the party by threatening to leave if their ruling council
later this month does not reject the document.
On Saturday Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he would have to
walk out of the party if the 900-member Ulster Unionist Council failed
to reject on June 16 London and Dublin`s proposals for the implementation
of the Good Friday Agreement.
In a bitter riposte, former Stormont culture minister Michael McGimpsey
accused UUP hardliners of misinforming the public about the joint declaration
and of trying to blackmail the council.
Mrs. Foster, a party officer, responded today: "The reason why Jeffrey
said what he said was that he was trying to show just how important the
UUC vote on June 16 is for the future of our party. We believe the joint
declaration challenges basic unionist principles. Council members have
to make up their own minds and can come to the UUC meeting in Belfast and
debate it. But I and others believe this document is as important as the
Belfast Agreement and it should be rejected."
The British and Irish governments released their blueprint for the future
implementation of the Good Friday Agreement last month despite their failure
to persuade the IRA to make any following the suspension of the Assembly
elections scheduled for May 29.
The document outlines action on a range of issues from the scaling-down
of the British Army presence to further police reform, a scheme to enable
on-the-run suspects to return to Northern Ireland to a sanctions body for
parties in default of the Agreement.
Its release and claims that the Royal Irish Regiment`s home battalions
could be axed have prompted UUP hardliners to reconvene their ruling council
to reject the plan.
McGimpsey accused colleagues on Monday of trying to precipitate a crisis
in the party. "I am deeply resentful of the attempted blackmail of the
Ulster Unionist Party with threats to quit. No individual is bigger than
the party," he said.
"I believe the party will reject attempts to snatch defeat from the
jaws of victory on June 16."
The south Belfast councillor also rejected claims that the proposed
sanctions body in the joint declaration would give the Irish government
a say over the running of the Assembly.
"The sanctions body can only recommend a course of action. The final
say rests with the Secretary of State (Paul Murphy)," he said.
"Furthermore, if the Secretary of State feels that the sanctions body
has not responded in an adequate manner, he can take unilateral disciplinary
action. There is no role for the Irish government in the Assembly."
Mrs. Foster hit back, insisting Dublin did have a role. "He clearly
has not read the joint declaration properly. He needs to go back and read
the agreement between the two governments on monitoring and compliance,"
the Fermanagh and South Tyrone Assembly candidate said.
"It clearly says the monitoring body would report to the British government
in consultation with the Irish on what actions should be taken."
Sinn Fein has vehemently resisted the notion of a sanctions body which,
it says, is outside the terms of the GFA.
Democratic Unionist Peter Weir, who was expelled from the UUP in 2001
for voting against David Trimble in the Assembly, attacked the `slavish
devotion` of his former leader to the Good Friday Agreement.
Admitting it was possible that the British Government would `give a
stay of execution to the RIR`, Mr. Weir said it was also possible that
UUP members fearing the electoral threat of the Democratic Unionists could
reject the joint declaration.
But he added: "For as long as the UUP remains committed to the Agreement
and its implementation, the same pattern will repeat itself and further
concessions and sacrifices will be made. It is only by following the DUP`s
policy of seeking an entirely new agreement can unionists halt the decline.
David Trimble has already sacrificed the Royal Ulster Constabulary and
the Royal Irish Regiment. If left unchecked, what will he give away to
complete the hat trick?"
FOR RIR HOME REGIMENTS TO BE DISBANDED
The leader of the nationalist SDLP has called for the home battalions
of the British Army's Royal Irish Regiment to be disbanded.
Mark Durkan said the regiment did not command the confidence of the
nationalist community and should be wound up.
His comments come a day after a meeting between Northern Ireland Secretary
Paul Murphy and Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon on the future of the 3,000-strong
Northern Ireland units.
Unionists have expressed dismay about reports that the British Army
plans to disband the three home battalions once the demilitarization proposals
in the recent British- Irish joint declaration are fully implemented.
Last week, the Ministry of Defense played down the reports, with sources
emphasizing no cuts would be made until the IRA declared its war was over
and decommissioned its weaponry.
British Government officials will assess possible solutions, but no
announcement on the regiment is expected until next week.
On Wednesday evening, Mr. Durkan said it was "wrong to keep army battalions
on duty here in the north drawn exclusively from one side of the community".
"It is deeply ironic that the same unionist politicians who give out
about the political interference in policing are leading the campaign for
the RIR to be kept on, despite the British Army's own assessment that it
will no longer be required," he said.
"If people were serious about the need to back up policing then they
would focus on ensuring that money which would otherwise be spent on the
RIR and others will all be added to the policing budget. Maintaining the
RIR would literally be at the expense of better policing," he added.
The future of the RIR is expected to top the agenda as the Ulster Unionist
Party's 900-strong ruling council debates the British-Irish joint declaration
document designed to move the peace process forward.
On Tuesday, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness criticized what he called
a British government U-turn on commitments given during recent talks.
He said: "Demilitarization was a key element of the Good Friday Agreement.
Five years on the British government have not delivered on their obligations."
The Royal Irish Regiment was formed in 1992, with the merger of the
Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defense Regiment. Many of the soldiers
who belong to three home battalions with bases in Armagh, Omagh and Holywood
Any cuts would not affect the regiment's first battalion, which recently
returned from the war in Iraq to its base in Kent.
BODY FOUND IN SEARCH
FOR MISSING LOYALIST
Police hunting for the missing loyalist Alan McCullough have found a
body on the northern outskirts of Belfast.
Detectives at the scene near Mallusk have said they are not yet in a
position to identify the body and cannot confirm if it is the body of the
The 21-year-old was last seen leaving his home in the Shankill area
Belfast on May 28. His disappearance is being linked to a loyalist paramilitary
feud. Last weekend, police said they feared he had been murdered.
The Aughnabrack Road has been closed by police while they examine the
area. A police spokesman said the search had been mounted as a result of
"information received by police".
A wide area has been cordoned off and forensic scientists have moved
in to carry out examinations. Outbuildings have been searched and spotter
planes used to fly over the area, made up of country roads and laneways.
It is understood detectives visited the McCullough family in the Shankill
area on Thursday to inform them of the search.
Chief Constable Hugh Orde confirmed detectives were at the scene of
an apparent shallow grave after workmen reported seeing what looked like
He indicated it was a strong possibility the body was that of McCullough.
Orde said: "The location makes it entirely possible that it is Mr. McCullough
but we can't confirm that until we are sure. What's very important is that
we have been treating this as a murder inquiry from very early on even
though no body was found. That's how seriously we have been taking this."
On Tuesday, a clergyman who is a member of the Loyalist Commission,
called on the UDA to tell McCullough's family what had happened to him.
The Rev. Mervyn Gibson said his group had made representations to the
UDA, but the loyalist paramilitaries "made no admission" about involvement
in Mr. McCullough's disappearance.
The commission, made up of loyalist paramilitary representatives and
Protestant clergymen, was set up "to provide political analysis" for loyalist
McCullough had recently returned to Northern Ireland after fleeing from
his home following a feud within the loyalist Ulster Defense Association
earlier this year.
Loyalist sources linked his disappearance with the murder of loyalist
leader John Gregg, who was shot dead by supporters of jailed Shankill loyalist
McCullough's mother said her son had been given assurances from the
UDA that he would be safe. The bloody feud within the UDA led to the deaths
of four men at the beginning of the year.
Johnny Adair and his associate John White were expelled from the UDA
leadership last September, causing a split in the organization. In February,
family and associates of Adair fled their homes for Scotland.
Adair remains in prison after the Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy,
revoked his early release license in January for his involvement in "a
litany of terrorist crimes".
COMMITMENT ON CROSS-BORDER BODIES
The British government was urged today to prove its commitment to the
Civic Forum and other institutions under the Good Friday Agreement which
give community leaders a say in policies affecting both sides of the Irish
At the launch of a cross border health strategy for women in the north-west
of Ireland, SDLP leader Mark Durkan called on the British government to
prove it had not abandoned the principle of partnership within Northern
Ireland and with the Irish Republic.
Durkan expressed concern that the `progressive approach` the power sharing
executive had was not being followed through `as our direct rulers settle
"Social partners have been wrongly excluded from key decisions - like
on setting the future investment strategy for the north," he said.
"The Civic Forum has been suspended. The north/south agenda has been
stalling. Many fear that efforts are being made to dilute equality consultations
with civic society."
The former Stormont Deputy First Minister claimed it would only take
a few gestures to reassure people that the Northern Ireland Office was
committed to the principle of partnership.
"It is not too much to ask for the Civic Forum to be reconvened," he
"It is not too much to ask that the north/south consultative Forum be
established. And it would not be too much for government to reassure us
that they will bring policy makers and those affected by policies together
to ensure equality of opportunity for all. That way the voice of civic
society in the North and throughout the island can be heard."
Durkan said Northern Ireland`s parties also had to play their part by
re-establishing the devolved institutions which he said were `not ornaments
to be admired`.
"They are tools to be worked to overcome the problems faced by all our
people in daily life - problems that are not getting the same attention
under direct rule, problems that we should be working with you to tackle
- poor health, poor education, poverty."
UUP SEEKS ASSURANCES
ON FUTURE OF RIR
The British government should end speculation that the Royal Irish Regiment's
three home battalions are to be disbanded, the Ulster Unionist Party has
The party also wants the British government to make clear that the existence
of the Northern Ireland-based battalions are not linked to demilitarization.
The UUP approved the resolution at a meeting of its 110- strong ruling
executive this evening when fears over the future of the RIR's 3,000-strong
home battalions were aired.
It followed reports that the British Army plans to disband the battalions
once demilitarization proposals in the recent British-Irish joint declaration
are fully implemented.
The party backed a motion by the leader, David Trimble, stating it would
be 'impossible' for the UUP to reach any further agreement with the governments
until the matter was resolved.
An amendment tabled by the anti-Agreement Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson,
calling for the rejection of the British Irish joint declaration, was voted
down by a two- thirds majority.
Last week, the British Ministry of Defense played down reports over
the RIR, with sources emphasizing no cuts would be made until the IRA declared
its war was over and decommissioned its weaponry.
The executive meeting came 10 days ahead of a meeting of the party's
ruling council, which will deal with a motion rejecting proposals which
are linked to the declaration.
It is being convened on June 16 at the request of skeptical party members
led by Donaldson.
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has criticized what he called a government
U-turn on commitments given during recent talks.
On Tuesday, Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy and Defense Secretary
Geoff Hoon met to discuss the future of the units.
The government is expected to make an announcement on the regiment next
COWEN CALLS FOR FALL ELECTIONS
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Brian Cowen has called on the British
government to allow elections to the powersharing Assembly to take place
in the fall.
Cowen, who was on a visit to the North, said the Irish government had
strongly opposed the decision by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to suspend
the election on May 29.
He warned of a political vacuum developing if elections did not go ahead.
"Regardless of any other considerations there must be elections here
in the autumn. It has fed a very negative dynamic into the situation that
there weren`t," he said.
"To provide a change of direction in that respect would greatly facilitate
the positive momentum we need to bring to this situation. I am very worried
about the sort of political vacuum that could be created where we not to
proceed quickly," he added.
Cowen said his government would continue to press London to make sure
there were no further suspensions.
"The Irish government will continue in dialogue and ask for the objective
situation to be assessed here and I think increasingly everyone recognizes
that a sustainable political process is predicated on elections being held
in the way in which they were envisaged."
During a visit to the nationalist Falls Road, he met community activists
who expressed deep anger at the decision to postpone last month`s poll.
Cowen said that while he understood their anger, they recognized it
was not the Irish government`s decision.
"They were genuine, they were frank and they were candid and they were
also acknowledging that the (Irish) government has done everything we can
do in the situation in respect of that issue."
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, who met Cowen in west Belfast, said
the Irish Foreign Minister was left in no doubt of the anger within the
"Brian Cowen will be made aware of the deep sense of frustration that
exists following the cancellation of elections by the British government
and the ongoing pandering to negative unionism. There is a lot of work
to be done to ensure that the summer months are calm, particularly for
people in interface areas who have had to endure totally unacceptable conditions
over recent summers," he added.
DURKAN WARNS AGAINST DRIFT
SDLP leader Mark Durkan today warned against letting the Northern Ireland
political process go into ''open drift''.
He said the Irish and British governments had to make visible movements
to prove they were committed to implementing the joint declaration. Durkan
was speaking after a meeting in Dublin with the Republic`s Foreign Affairs
minister Brian Cowen.
"It was a very useful meeting and covered a lot of ground,: he said.
"It focused on the need for the governments to follow through with the
implementation of the joint declaration. And more importantly in the medium
to long term the need to work towards having the institutions up and running
- that we do have elections that should have already taken place but are
not taking place."
He added: "We are just concerned that the two governments need to be
making clear that it is the agenda they are working on."
He said he hoped they were not expecting somebody else to pick up the
process in the Autumn.
LOYALISTS PLANNED TO
KILL MAYOR LIVINGSTONE
London Mayor Ken Livingstone said today he was told he was targeted
in a loyalist murder plot in the 1980s. Livingstone, former Labour Party
Member of Parliament infuriated loyalists by publicly supporting republicans.
Former UDA paramilitary Michael Stone (48) told London's Evening Standard
newspaper a hitman stalked Mr. Livingstone for two nights but that an assassination
attempt was called off at the last minute.
The gunman, sent from Belfast to London, had disguised himself as a
jogger and watched Livingstone's movements. But the plans were dropped
amid fears that the killing would lead to "horrific" political repercussions,
said Stone, who has served time in prison for murdering Catholics.
Livingstone, who was elected as London's first mayor in 2000, said a
team of police officers had been sent to warn him of the plot.
"I was kept informed and some measures were taken at the time," he told
a London press conference, adding: "The fact that some people do not like
me is not a surprise".
DUBLIN BOMBING INQUEST TO
An inquest into the Dublin bombings is to be formally reopened next
Friday, 29 years after the attacks which killed 33 people in the capital
and in Monaghan. At stake is the eroding credibility of the British Government
and it's security services who are believed by many to have colluded with
loyalists in the bombings.
The Dublin City Coroner, Dr Brian Farrell, said yesterday that inquests
into how 26 people died in Dublin city center on May 17, 1974. would resume
by way of mention at the coroner's court on Friday.
Full inquests won't begin until publication of Mr. Justice Barron's
independent investigation of the bombings, which is due in September.
Part of the remit of the Barron inquiry is to try to establish whether
the British security services assisted the UVF in the attack.
Justice Barron told The Irish Times last night that the decision to
re-open the inquest "had nothing to do with my inquiry".
He said his report was "virtually completed" and due to be published
within a few months. "The present line is that if it is not out by September
we will be very unhappy."
Asked whether the inquest was likely to throw up any new evidence, the
former Supreme Court judge replied: "Not in my view. I am sure the evidence
to the inquest is the evidence already before us.
"I think it does serve a purpose because if you have a loved one killed
you want to know the law has taken its ordinary course, and to have a coroner
decide how the death occurred. I would see it as part of the healing process
of the bereaved."
Inquests were heard into the deaths of six of the Monaghan victims but,
at the request of the GardaÌ, the Dublin inquest was immediately
adjourned after it began in 1974.
The Justice for the Forgotten group, which has spearheaded the campaign
to establish the truth behind the bombings, welcomed the announcement yesterday.
The bombings killed 33 people, the largest single death toll since the
modern "troubles" began in the late 1960's.
WOULD BE A BACKWARD STEP - FARREN
A rejection by Ulster Unionists of the British and Irish governments'
plan for the future of the peace process would be a backward step, an SDLP
member warned today.
As Ulster Unionists prepared for a meeting of their 900- member ruling
council which could potentially split the party, SDLP negotiator Sean Farren
urged them to think carefully about the message that would be sent out
if they rejected the proposals.
The former Stormont finance minister argued in Warrenpoint, Co Down:
"Rejection of the Joint Declaration by the UUC would be a dangerous and
backward step. Unionism would be rejecting our best hope of achieving decommissioning
and would in effect be rejecting the whole process of reform and change
which the Good Friday Agreement initiated for the benefit of everyone.
Is this the signal unionists want to send out to the whole world and most
particularly to their nationalist neighbors?"
Tensions in the Ulster Unionist Party have been mounting over Monday
night`s meeting following the anti-Agreement Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson`s
threat to quit if the UUC did not reject the joint declaration.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern released
the joint declaration, which contains proposals on policing and criminal
justice reform, equality and human rights after the British government`s
decision to cancel Assembly elections in May.
The document`s release came after the IRA produced a statement which
failed to satisfy British government demands regarding the wording to an
end to all paramilitary activity.
In an escalation of the debate within the UUP, party members in Upper
Bann announced yesterday that they were tabling a motion of no confidence
in their party leader and local MP David Trimble.
At the same time, UUP members in Lagan Valley tabled a motion of no
confidence in Donaldson. Both MPs have shrugged off the challenges to them.
In a direct appeal to UUP members, Mr. Farren today asked if they really
wanted to send out the message that "they want no part of an agreement
which is based on a partnership between our communities and a partnership
between North and South?"
"Are unionists who reject the Joint Declaration now saying they disagree
with developing policing and justice systems capable of gaining increased
support from all sections of our society?" he asked.
"Are unionists who reject the Joint Declaration saying there should
not be a normalization of security arrangements and practices as part of
the development of a peaceful society? Are they saying that abnormal security
arrangements should persist across Northern Ireland? Are unionists who
reject the Joint Declaration saying that the whole program for human rights
reform should be set aside?
"These are but some of the serious questions that have to be addressed
by those who advocate rejection of the Joint Declaration. Rejection of
the Joint Declaration would seriously put in question unionist commitment
to all of these aspects of the Good Friday Agreement and would clearly
be not only a backward step but a very dangerous one as well."
TRIMBLE FACES CRUNCH VOTE
Any hope of a compromise between the Trimble and Donaldson factions
of the Ulster Unionist Party in advance of this evening's Ulster Unionist
Council (UUC) debate on the Joint Declaration from the Irish and British
governments faded this afternoon.
Anti-Agreement MP Jeffrey Donaldson has submitted a motion calling for
the rejection of the Irish and British government's proposals, drawn up
at Hillsborough in April and designed to map the way towards implementation
of the Belfast Agreement in return for an end to paramilitarism and the
removal of illegal weapons.
The 860 UUC delegates will have to decide between Mr. Donaldson's motion
and the stance adopted by party leader David Trimble.
Donaldson has threatened to resign from the UUP if his motion is defeated
and he has said he views tonight's meeting as a "defining moment for unionism".
But Trimble will tonight propose a six-point amendment to Donaldson's
motion. These amendments soften opposition to elements in the document
but do not imply acceptance of the Joint Declaration either.
The two men and their supporters are opposed on key elements of the
governments' policy document, drawn up by the two governments at Hillsborough
in April. It was designed to map the way towards full implementation of
the Belfast Agreement in return for an end to paramilitarism and the removal
of illegal weapons.
Trimble is expected to win tonight's vote, but looks to be facing a
tough challenge to prevent the party splitting. Tonight's meeting is the
11th on issues linked to the Belfast Agreement since 1998.
Trimble has held on to victory by various margins at previous gatherings,
but this evening's is certain to inflict a defeat on one side which could
well alter the face of the UUP, and by implication, Northern politics.
Meanwhile, both Trimble and Donaldson are facing votes of no confidence
as MPs, put forward by their respective constituency associations.
Today, the moderate unionist Alliance Party strongly criticized the
fact that on-the-run paramilitaries would not have to appear in person
before a tribunal, before being granted freedom on license.
In their official response to the joint declaration, the party described
this as a "final insult" to victims and pledged to use all its influence
to block it.
TRIMBLE PREVAILS ON CRUNCH
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble has narrowly won the backing of
his party for proposals linked to the British and Irish Governments' Joint
Trimble faced a challenge from rebels within the party at a meeting
of its 860-strong ruling council in Belfast tonight. A motion put forward
by the hardline MP Jeffrey Donaldson had asked members to reject the proposals.
However, Trimble's compromise amendment which criticized some elements
of the declaration, whilst noting that the party has not accepted the document
as a whole, was backed by 54% of the council. Donaldson received 46% of
The Lagan Valley MP had pledged to consider his position within the
UUP if the vote did not go his way. Speaking after his victory Mr. Trimble
appealed to Jeffrey Donaldson to stay in the party.
"I would like him to consider it and conclude that the only course to
follow is to remain in the Ulster Unionist Party, and to support the policies
of the party," he said. "I would dearly love Jeffrey to consider that as
the only way forward in the present circumstances."
Had Trimble failed to secure support, his leadership may have come into
question. Council members did not vote on the question of the leadership
and traditionally Trimble has secured narrow victories at past meetings
of the ruling council.
Donaldson, who is fiercely anti-Agreement, said the meeting was a "defining
moment for unionism." Sources said Donaldson received loud applause as
he urged council members to take a more hard-line stance on the British
and Irish joint declaration.
However, a leadership source said: "At the end of the day, David Trimble's
logic has carried it."
Earlier, Ulster Unionist leader Trimble arrived at tonight's meeting,
saying little. He urged members of the party not to focus solely on their
own concerns. However, the Upper Bann MP said he would listen closely to
what party members had to say in tonight's debate.
"We have always operated on the basis of discussion and of consensus,"
he said. "I hope we will continue to do that."
Tonight's meeting is the 11th on issues linked to the Belfast Agreement
CAR ATTACKED BY LOYALIST MOB
A car carrying Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness was attacked
by loyalists today, Sinn FÈin claimed. A mob surrounded the vehicle
outside council offices in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, as McGuinness and a
party colleague prepared to meet a number of groups from the area.
Stones and bottles were thrown and the crowd of a dozen kicked and hammered
the car, according to Sinn FÈin. The party also said the mob included
three members of the DUP.
"Philip McGuigan and myself were scheduled to meet a number of local
groups in Ballymoney Council Offices this afternoon. On our arrival at
the offices a crowd of around a dozen loyalists had obviously been made
aware of my visit and began to attack my car," Mr. McGuinness said.
"Serious damage was caused before we were able to get away," he added.
A second car was involved in a collision with a bus at about the same
Police say the incidents may be connected, and have appealed for anyone
with information to contact detectives at Ballymoney.
BATTLE LINES DRAWN
IN UUP SHOWDOWN
Battle lines were being drawn in the Ulster Unionist Party tonight as
leader David Trimble prepared to move against the half of the party's MPs
who have resigned the whip.
The "defining moment for unionism", which both sides claim is upon them,
is just hours away.
With the party divided into two almost equal parts, party officers meet
on Thursday to decide what to do about the challenge to the Trimble leadership
by the Rev Martin Smyth, Jeffrey Donaldson and David Burnside, who all
resigned the whip in opposition to Mr. Trimble`s handling of the peace
Focus at the meeting will be on Smyth and Donaldson who, as President
and Vice President of the party`s ruling Ulster Unionist Council, face
sanction for failing to uphold the decisions of the council.
Smyth made clear tonight he would not go without a fight.
The three MPs` resignations of the whip followed last week`s decision
of the council not to endorse their call for a total rejection of the Joint
Declaration by the British and Irish governments on the way to restore
devolution to the Stormont Assembly.
They lost the vote in the specially convened meeting 46% to 54%.
Ironically, as party officers both Smyth and Donaldson have a right
to be at the meeting which will decide what action should be taken. Party
insiders said tonight that the next step would be to form a disciplinary
committee to decide on the sanctions to take against them.
But Trimble has made clear he wants to see the two men out of their
posts. He said it was `impossible` for them to resign the whip but remain
However Mr. Smyth made it clear tonight he would not go quietly.
The South Belfast MP expressed no regret over his decision to resign
the whip and said he would not be resigning as President.
"I note the moves to now remove me as President, and even to look at
expelling myself and my colleagues from the party," said Smyth.
"I have no intention of making the job easier for those who oppose me
and so I will gladly go through the processes of the party and put my case."
However there had to be a realization that such moves would be "widely
seen as moves against the half of the party which shares the views of Jeffrey
Donaldson, David Burnside and myself," he said.
Smyth said he was "happy and confident in the knowledge" that he stood
with a clear majority of over 70% of unionists who were of a like mind
In a clear attack on David Trimble, Smyth added: "If others still refuse
to recognize the minority of their position, they may in the long term
be forced to do so."
He said there was a failure to grasp the fact that the Ulster Unionist
Party was almost evenly divided.
"It is delusional to think that in such a situation an organization
can be run on simple majority rule with a silent and subservient 46%,"
AGREEMENT IS ONLY WAY FORWARD - MURPHY
Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy warned warring unionists today
that the Good Friday Agreement was the only way forward.
He said most people in Northern Ireland still backed the Agreement,
while polls indicated a majority of unionists also supported it.
His comments at Commons question time followed the failed attempt by
three hardline Ulster Unionist Party MPs last week to get the Ulster Unionist
Council to reject the peace process.
Today John Hume (SDLP Foyle) said in 1998, for the first time in history,
the majority of people in Ireland both north and south had voted overwhelmingly
on how they wished to live together when they backed the agreement.
"For that reason it is the duty of all true democrats to implement the
will of the people. Given that certain parties opposite wish to overthrow
that Agreement, they are overthrowing the principle of consent which is
the fundamental principle of unionism. If they do that, what damage are
they doing to their own people?"
Murphy agreed, saying: "Of course people in 1998 voted for the Good
Friday Agreement north and south overwhelmingly. It is, I believe, the
only way forward - through the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
"But for us to move forward and to ensure that those institutions are
restored, we do have to restore the confidence and the trust between parties
in Northern Ireland and that is based on ensuring there is an end to paramilitary
activity in Northern Ireland and that the institutions in Northern Ireland
are stable institutions."
Labour`s Dr Nick Palmer (Broxtowe) said: "There remains a significant
majority in favor of the peace process in the Ulster Unionist Party, in
the unionist electorate and an overwhelming majority in the electorate
at large. Will you take the opportunity to work with those who favor the
peace process and marginalize the fringe groups who do not."
Mr. Murphy said he could not marginalize any groups as it was his job
to talk to all political parties, irrespective of their standpoint.
"However, I do very much agree with you that the vote of the Ulster
Unionist Council last week indicated still a majority of members of that
council in favor of the Good Friday agreement. I also agree with you that
the majority of people in Northern Ireland believe that the best way forward
is through the Good Friday agreement."
"I also agree all indications are that includes the unionist community
as well in the polls we have seen. I believe people in Northern Ireland
also want to see an end to paramilitary activity. They also want to see
stability in institutions. That is achieved through the Good Friday Agreement."
But Quentin Davies, for the Tories, said: "The peace process has been
effectively paralyzed since the Government decided to cancel the elections
and parties have simply turned in on themselves."
He said there were murders by loyalist paramilitaries and attempted
murders by republican dissidents.
He called for a shelving of any plans to reduce intelligence gathering
or security capability including plans to dismantle observation towers
in South Armagh.
But Murphy said security measures depended on the level of threat from
TRIMBLE BEGINS MOVE TO
Ulster Unionist Party leader, David Trimble began moves today to expel
rebel MPs Jeffrey Donaldson, the Rev. Martin Smyth and David Burnside from
He announced that a special disciplinary committee had been set up to
deal with the three who resigned the party whip at Westminster in protest
at the leadership's policy on the peace process.
Trimble, speaking after a party officers' meeting at UUP headquarters
in Belfast, said: "This hasn't been a good week for unionism I think the
decision taken by the three gentlemen on Monday have triggered a crisis
within the party and has left the party with no alternative but to respond
in the way that it has."
He said the decision to begin disciplinary proceedings was an inevitable
consequence of the three MPs' onslaught on the party's policies and leadership.
"Perhaps there might now be a period of reflection by them when they
see what the consequences are but at the end of the day people do have
to decide whether they are going to be members of the party, whether they
are going to follow through that membership by supporting that party,"
"We can't be expected to indefinitely put up the situation where there
is a party within a party."
The disciplinary committee will be chaired by attorney Mr. Raymond Ferguson,
a member of the party.
Trimble said that it would be in the best interests of the party for
the matter to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
He said he had made considerable effort over the last five or six years
to give people latitude and to tolerate attacks against his leadership.
"That tolerance can only go so far and after what happened on Monday,
we had no alternative but to take the step as we did today."
Any decision made by the disciplinary committee to expel the three MPs
will have to be ratified by the 110-strong Ulster Unionist executive.
But Mr. Donaldson has already hinted that the matter could ultimately
go before the 816-member Ulster Unionist council.
Sinn FÈin president Mr. Gerry Adams said he could not wait for
the crisis in unionism to be resolved in order to press ahead with the
implementation of the Belfast Agreement. Adams told reporters after a meeting
with the Taoiseach in Dublin: "We have to go forward on the basis that
people either have rights and entitlements or they don't."
He said he had stressed that Assembly elections must go ahead this fall.
"We are putting an awful amount of work on the ground trying to ensure
that this summer is peaceful and is calm," he said.
"Really unless this limbo land is brought to an end the process continues
because of our stamina and the stamina of other players."
UUP SUSPENDS DISSIDENT MPs
The Ulster Unionist Party has suspended its president the Rev Martin
Smyth and two other MPs, David Burnside and Mr. Jeffrey Donaldson, it emerged
The move came as a disciplinary committee met for the first time to
consider the future of the three rebel MPs opposed to the leadership of
David Trimble and the Belfast Agreement.
A party source said: "The three have been informed of the decision and
they are entitled to attend a disciplinary hearing next month."
The suspension of the three MPs signaled a dramatic escalation in the
internal strife which has created the most serious crisis in the party
in 30 years.
The decision followed their resignation of the party whip at Westminster
because of their opposition to Trimble and his peace process strategy.
The Rev. Smyth once challenged Trimble for the party leadership but Donaldson
is by far the most outspoken critic of his leader.
The statement read: "Following yesterday's decision by the party officers
to refer a suspected breach of party rules by three members of parliament,
the party's disciplinary committee met today at party headquarters in Belfast.
The committee decided to hold a further formal hearing on July 17 at which
the three MPs are entitled to be present."
"The committee determined that pending the hearing, Rev. Martin Smyth,
Jeffrey Donaldson and David Burnside are suspended from party membership
with immediate effect. Under the party rules, anyone suspended from membership
ceases to be a member and forfeits all the rights and privileges of party
Donaldson said he was shocked by the move and he and his two colleagues
were seeking legal advice to have their suspensions rescinded.
"I'm absolutely astonished at the decision of the disciplinary committee
to suspend myself and my two parliamentary colleagues from the Ulster Unionist
Party," he said.
"We have not been afforded any opportunity to state our case before
this decision was made. I do not think there is any provision in the rules
of the Ulster Unionist Party for disciplinary action to be taken against
a party member before he has had the opportunity to have his case heard.
I believe that this decision can be challenged and we are currently seeking
DUP CHALLENGES HAASS'S CLAIM
President Bush's Special Envoy to Northern Ireland Richard Haass was
challenged today on his claim that a majority of Unionists still back the
Northern Ireland peace process.
Even though David Trimble`s Ulster Unionist Party is in deep crisis
over opposition to the Good Friday Agreement by a section of his party,
Mr. Haass said he believed the support was there to drive forward the political
He said: "The polls show a majority of unionists who have a position
of what I would call conditional support for the peace process and their
view is that they would be willing, for example, to support power-sharing
in all of its manifestations so long as republicans give up paramilitary
activity. I still think that there is a unionist partner out there."
But his claim was dismissed by Trimble`s bitter rivals in the Democratic
Ian Paisley Jr., a former member of the suspended Stormont Assembly,
said: "That assessment is contemptible and insulting to the intelligence
of the people of Northern Ireland. It shows the American administration
is prepared to ignore the democratic views of the majority of unionists."
The rift threatening Mr. Trimble`s leadership and the future of his
party has deepened following moves to expel three dissident MPs who have
resigned the party whip at Westminster.
Party officers decided by five votes to two at an emergency meeting
to set up a disciplinary group under the chairmanship of Enniskillen lawyer
The three dissidents resigned the whip in protest at the leadership`s
policy on the peace process.
Their resignations followed last week`s decision of the Ulster Unionist
Council to vote by 54% to 46% to support Mr. Trimble`s view of the peace
process and oppose a proposal by Mr. Donaldson to reject the British and
Irish governments` Joint Declaration on the way forward in the peace process.
Haass said the internal problems within the UUP had to be sorted out,
but the political process had to be persevered with in the meantime. "I
would hope that unionist politics would work in a way where the political
leadership would be reflective of what all the polls indicate the reality
is," he said.
"Which is that you have a majority of unionist voters who support conditionally
- but do support - working within the construct of the Good Friday Agreement,
and I believe the Joint Declaration."
Ambassador Haass is in London to meet Northern Ireland Secretary Paul
Murphy and senior nationalist and unionist politicians.
ORANGE ORDER MARCH PASSES
One of the most contentious loyalist parades in Northern Ireland's marching
season passed off peacefully today despite passing a west Belfast sectarian
Amid a massive security operation, Orange Order marchers walked along
a stretch of the staunchly Catholic Springfield Road.
Last year the bitterly opposed march provoked riots - but today
50 nationalists staged a silent protest on the route. The success raised
hopes that the loyalist marching season might not be plunged into violence
again this year.
Frank McCoubrey, a West Belfast loyalist councillor, said: "It took
five years to build this level of trust between two communities who said
enough is enough. This sends out a message to the rest of Northern Ireland
that if it can be done here on the Springfield Road, which has seen some
of the most mindless violence anywhere in the Province, then it can be
The Parades Commission had decided to let the Orangemen pass through
the peace line at Workman Avenue despite appeals from residents and Sinn
But loyalist supporters were ordered to keep back while the marchers
made their way up Springfield Road and returned back into Protestant territory.
With riot police blocking off the road to keep the bulk of nationalists
back, the 50-strong delegation was allowed through in order to hold a peaceful
As the Orange Order and loyalist bandsmen emerged through the steel
barriers the residents held aloft a banner saying; "Orange: it's good to
talk", in reference to the Orange Order's refusal to negotiate with the
Within 20 minutes the parade had passed by without any serious trouble,
in contrast to the situation 12 months ago when police were forced to deploy
Tom Hartley, a senior Sinn FÈin councillor in west Belfast, praised
the discipline of the crowd.
He said: "It was a peaceful protest and it reflected the consistency
of the residents' approach in trying to solve this problem. But it is important
that this pressure and this angst which is visited on these residents every
year does not become and annual event. It's up the Parades Commission to
insist that the Orange Order engages in dialogue so we can find a resolution
SINN FEIN CALLS FOR EARLY ELECTION
Sinn Féin today stepped up pressure on the British Government
for an early new election to the Northern Ireland Assembly.
National chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said after a meeting in Dublin
of the party`s policy-directing Arrd Comhairle executive that a poll in
the autumn would provide a political anchor and a focus for the peace process.
Underscoring fears that a political vacuum would be emerge unless new
elections were held soon, he said party leader Gerry Adams had briefed
his Ard Comhairle colleagues on talks he had yesterday with Irish premier
McLaughlin said: "Mr. Adams outlined the political contacts there have
been since our last meeting with the British and Irish governments, and
American President George Bush`s special envoy, Richard Haas," Mr. McLaughlin
"We set out a report that indicated the representations that have been
made to the governments to bring forward a definite, unqualified date for
an autumn election. It is out view that a dangerous political vacuum is
opening up - the evidence of that is to be seen in the fractious debate
or dispute that is going on within the (Ulster) Unionist party, and the
simmering problems on the interface areas in the north. We are calling
urgently for the establishment of definite date."
GARVAGHY ROAD MARCH BANNED
Portadown Orangemen have been banned from marching on the town's flashpoint
Garvaghy Road on Sunday next.
A decision announced in Belfast today by the Northern Ireland Parades
Commission confirmed the Orangemen must stay away from the area following
a church service at Drumcree.
The Commission took the decision following objections from nationalist
residents and amid fears there could be violence. There was trouble last
year when some of the marchers clashed with police and troops who blocked
The Orangemen have been banned from the area for a number of years and,
even though attempts have been continuing to reach some sort of compromise
on the route, the Drumcree Orangemen were again told they would not be
allowed on to the Garvaghy Road.
The Commission said today there continued to be a strain on community
relations in the area.
It added: "The Commission has cause to believe that should the parade
process the entirety of its notified route, there will be an adverse effect
on community relations and a potential for public disorder."
CALLS FOR INDEPENDENT
FINUCANE INQUIRY INTENSIFY
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has stated that the
investigation by police and security forces into the murder of Catholic
solicitor Pat Finucane in Belfast more than 14 years ago was a breach of
The court backed a case brought by Finucane`s wife Geraldine,
who complained that there was no `effective` inquiry into her husband`s
The judges ruled unanimously that the police investigation by the Royal
Ulster Constabulary lacked independence because the force itself was suspected
by Mrs. Finucane of making death threats against her husband.
Such a lack of independence `"raised serious doubts as to the thoroughness
or effectiveness with which the possibility of collusion had been pursued".
Finucane was gunned down in front of his wife and their three children
by two masked men who broke into their home as they were eating a Sunday
meal in February, 1989.
At the time the attorney was a prominent figure because he represented
paramilitary suspects facing trial.
The judges not only questioned the police investigation, but criticized
the inquest into the death for not including any inquiry into the allegations
of collusion and for refusing Mrs. Finucane permission to make a statement
about the alleged threats to her husband.
"The inquest therefore failed to address serious and legitimate concerns
and could not be regarded as having constituted an effective investigation."
The inquiries set up by the RUC under the head of the Metropolitan Police,
Sir John Stevens, to investigate acts of collusion between members of the
British security forces and loyalist paramilitaries also came under fire
in the judgment.
"Of the three inquiries, it was not apparent that the first two had
been concerned with investigating the death of (Mr. Finucane) with a view
to bringing a prosecution and, in any event, the reports had not been made
public, so the necessary elements of public scrutiny and involvement of
the family were missing," said the judges.
They added: `"While the third inquiry was specifically concerned with
the murder, the government admitted that, taking place some ten years after
the event, it could not be regarded as having been carried out promptly
and expeditiously. Moreover, it was not apparent to what extent the report
itself would be made public."
Finucane`s murder was later claimed by the loyalist Ulster Freedom Fighters
(UFF). At one point former Royal Ulster Constabulary Special Branch agent
William Stobie was arrested and questioned, admitting to supplying the
weapons used in the Finucane killing, but saying he did not know who the
intended victim was and that he alerted his superiors that a shooting was
on the cards.
But there was no prosecution on grounds of lack of evidence - and in
1995 the Director of Public Prosecution issued a direction of `no prosecution`
to the RUC Chief Constable on the grounds that there was 'insufficient
evidence' to prosecute anyone.
Today`s judgment said the DPP was not required to give reasons for his
decisions - with no possibility in Northern Ireland to challenge such decisions
- and no information had been given to reassure Mrs. Finucane and the public
that the rule of law had been respected.
"In conclusion, there had been a failure to provide a prompt and effective
investigation into the allegations of collusion by security personnel."
The judges awarded Mrs. Finucane more than £30,000 in costs and
expenses, but made no recommendation about the next step in the Finucane
murder case - one of the most controversial killings in the history of
the Northern Ireland conflict.
The judgment stated: The Court did not consider it appropriate to indicate
that the government should hold a fresh investigation into Finucane`s death.
"It could not be assumed in cases such as this that a future investigation
could usefully be carried out to provide any redress, either to the victim`s
family or in terms of providing transparency and accountability to the
wider public. The lapse of time and its effect on evidence and the availability
of witnesses could inevitably render such an investigation unsatisfactory
Michael Finucane, the son of the murdered solicitor, said: "My family
have never been afraid to put our case forward to be tested. Now we have
a judgment from the highest court in Europe that his right to life was
violated. The UK have been found wanting because they did not properly
protect his life nor investigate his death. It is easy to see why they
didn`t want to investigate this murder - they were the instigators and
facilitators of it."
Sinn Féin national chairman Mitchel McLaughlin said the verdict
of the European Court of Human Rights made the case for a full independent
inquiry into Mr. Finucane's murder even stronger.
"The identities of those involved in the killing of Pat Finucane are
well known," he said.
"The fact that agencies of the British state used the UDA (Ulster Defense
Association) to carry out this killing is beyond doubt. What is required
now is a full independent judicial inquiry to establish exactly who authorized
and planned this killing where the chain of command leads to."
A trio of influential human rights bodies welcomed the ruling of the
European Court of Human Rights.
Amnesty International, British Irish Rights Watch and the Committee
on the Administration of Justice called on the British government to take
immediate action in accordance with the ruling.
The groups called on the British government:
* To publish the reports of Stevens 1, 2 and 3.
* To ensure the Director of Public Prosecutions gives full reasons for
the many controversial decisions that have been made in relation to the
* To immediately establish an independent, international public inquiry
into Mr. Finucane`s death with full judicial powers of discovery and subpoena.
A spokesperson for the three groups said: "This judgment confirms that
there has been no effective investigation of the collusion in this murder.
The Finucane family have been waiting 14 years for justice. It is time
the Government stopped aiding and abetting those who have engaged in collusion
and cover-ups, and allowed the full truth to be told about this case by
establishing a public inquiry."
The nationalist SDLP`s justice spokesperson Alban Maginness also welcomed
"Today`s verdict should come as no real surprise; other cases have come
before the European Court of Human Rights and the same conclusion that
they were not properly investigated was reached," he said.
"The decision only confirms and further strengthens the case for a full
judicial inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane a case the SDLP will continue
ABOUT EARLY FALL ELECTIONS
Discussions on reinvigorating the Northern peace process take place
this afternoon with a reluctant tone coming from Downing Street over the
possibility of early Assembly elections.
When Irish premier Bertie Ahern and the British Prime Minister, Tony
Blair, meet this afternoon, Ahern will press for elections in the autumn
but a spokesman for Number 10 said "confidence" must be restored before
polling - postponed in May - could begin.
"As we said at the time of the postponement of the elections, there
will need to be work done to establish the necessary confidence to move
forward," he said.
"This meeting is really the Prime Minister and Taoiseach following on
from their meeting at the European Council [late last month] and shaping
that work agenda before the summer," he added.
In a clear hint that Blair does not share Mr. Ahern's eagerness for
early elections the spokesman added: "You can expect the Prime Minister
and Taoiseach, after the pause that there has been, to be looking at how
we can move forward on all of the different issues. Everyone understands
what the difficulties and challenges are - it's a question of how we move
However, the Taoiseach has stated on several occasions that elections
should be called as early as possible - even after the rift in the Ulster
Unionist Party that has led to the possibility of three MPs being expelled
from the party.
David Trimble's leadership is seen by London as an essential element
to the success of power-sharing but Sinn FÈin, who have blamed the
political stagnation on the British protecting Trimble from anti-Agreement
elements within his party, have called for early elections irrespective
of the consequences for the UUP leader.
The SDLP has also demanded early elections, in accordance with the terms
of the Good Friday Agreement.
It is feared the marching over the summer could increase inter-community
tensions while the outcome of disciplinary procedures against the dissident
UUP MPs could create a significant anti-Agreement dynamic over the summer.
The Irish government is keen that progress be made to prevent such feeling
At a meeting between Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cowen,
and Britain's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Paul Murphy, Ireland
again reiterated its wish to see elections as soon as possible.
"The Irish Government remains convinced that we need to proceed to elections
as envisaged in order to provide that momentum and sustain it," Cowen said
after the meeting.
Ahern will meet Trimble at the Irish Embassy after his meeting with
AHERN CALLS FOR FALL ELECTIONS
Irish premier Bertie Ahern has said he wants to see elections to the
suspended Northern Irish Assembly held this autumn.
Following a meeting in Downing Street with the British Prime Minister
Mr. Tony Blair both leaders said they wanted to see elections to the suspended
Northern Assembly happen as soon as possible but they signaled there were
many outstanding issues to be resolved first.
Ahern told a news conference he was confident the difficulties could
be overcome. He said his government's position on the North's suspended
Assembly elections has not changed and Mr. Blair was aware of that.
Northern Ireland's power-sharing assembly, set up under the 1998 Belfast
Agreement, was unilaterally suspended last October by the British government.
Blair's spokesman said Ahern and Blair had taken stock of the stalled
peace process ahead of the Orange Order marching season. He said he did
not expect elections before September.
"We want to see the postponed elections as soon as possible," the spokesman
Ahern told reporters: "I don't believe that anybody in Northern Ireland
is happy with the situation that their assembly, their executive and their
administration are in suspension."
"That's why the Irish government is strongly of the view that the best
way of dealing with this issue is to get on with having an election, but
we understand that there are issues that we have to resolve and we are
committed to doing that."
Ahern also met former President Bill Clinton who was visiting Blair.
He will meet the Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, before returning
to Dublin later.
COURT RULES UUP
MEMBERS SUSPENSION INVALID
The suspension of three Ulster Unionist MPs from the party is invalid,
the High Court in Belfast has ruled.
Jeffrey Donaldson, the Reverend Martin Smyth and David Burnside were
seeking an injunction to overturn the decision of a party disciplinary
committee to suspend them.
They were suspended last month after resigning the party whip at Westminster
in protest at the policies of UUP leader David Trimble.
The three MPs were seeking a ruling that the party officers' action
was illegal. Justice Paul Girvan said today that the suspension was invalid
because the disciplinary committee set up by the Ulster Unionist Party
officers had been "improperly constituted".
The ruling means that the MPs are once again members of the Ulster Unionist
The court ruled that the participation of one member of the committee,
Barry Fitzsimons, could be questioned because he was involved in a motion
of no confidence against Donaldson in his Lagan Valley constituency.
However, the court ruled that the participation of Mr. Trimble in a
meeting considering what action should be taken against the three MPs was
Costs were awarded against the Ulster Unionist Party. A disciplinary
hearing has been scheduled to take place on July 17. After the court ruling,
Donaldson said: "Justice has been done."
Donaldson, who was joined in the court by Smyth, appealed to Trimble
to abandon the disciplinary action. He said: "I would say to Mr. Trimble:
draw back from the brink. If you want a way forward, this is not it. Suspension
is not the way forward. It is time for Mr. Trimble to start listening to
what we have to say instead of resorting to a rulebook that he cannot even
interpret, and which this court has determined to have been an unlawful
Former Ulster Unionist assembly member Peter Weir, who is now a member
of Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists, was among those in the public gallery.
Former Stormont environment minister Dermot Nesbitt and the UUP's chairman
James Cooper were also present.
Chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party James Cooper said the party leadership
would now engage in a "mature reflection" on the judgment.
However, he said the judge had "clearly upheld" the decision of the
party officers to make a reference to the disciplinary tribunal. "What
he found at question was the terms of reference," he added.
Cooper said it was "highly regrettable" that Ulster Unionists were fighting
each other in the courts.
But he added: "We do not want to have to use disciplinary procedures,
but we cannot continue to have an assault going on from within."
The three MPs quit the whip in a move designed to increase pressure
on Mr. Trimble by refusing to endorse his policy on the British-Irish joint
Last month, dissident unionists gathered 30 signatures for a motion
of no confidence in David Trimble as Member of Parliament for Upper Bann.
It is due to be discussed on Tuesday.
A similar party vote in the Lagan Valley constituency against Mr. Donaldson
was dropped "in the interests of party unity" following his narrow defeat
in a vote taken by the UUP's 900-strong ruling council.
In June, Trimble fended off a challenge from party rebels, led by Mr.
Donaldson, who wanted the party to reject the recent British and Irish
The joint declaration, released in May, outlined plans to reduce troop
numbers to 5,000 as part of an attempt to implement the Good Friday Agreement.
It included five annexes dealing with security normalization, policing
and justice, human rights and equality, on-the-run paramilitaries and mechanisms
to verify and monitor any deal.
Northern Ireland's devolved administration was unilaterally suspended
by the British government last October when it became apparent that the
Ulster Unionist Party was facing stiff opposition from anti-Agreement unionists
to the extent that the Democratic Unionists may have become the largest
unionist grouping in the Assembly in any subsequent election.
TRIMBLE FACES NO-CONFIDENCE
Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble is facing a vote of no confidence
as MP for Upper Bann, in the latest wrangle within his party.
It comes a day after a court ruled as invalid the suspension of three
rebel MPS who quit the party whip at Westminster in protest at the policies
of Mr. Trimble, the party leader.
Dissident unionists gathered 30 signatures last month for a motion of
no confidence in Mr. Trimble and it is due to be discussed on tonight.
The dissidents are not expecting to win the vote but believe Mr. Trimble
has been further weakened by Monday's High Court judgment.
Former assembly member George Savage, who was one of Mr. Trimble's biggest
supporters, has refused to say if he will back the party leader.
Mr. Savage is seen as a key figure within the Upper Bann association.
He beat the party leader nine months ago to top the poll when delegates
selected their candidates for the assembly elections.
"I will be watching deliberations very closely," he said.
Mr. Trimble's opponents within the constituency association have said
anything over 35% for their motion will damage the Upper Bann MP, whose
parliamentary majority in the constituency slipped from 16,000 in 1992
to about 2,000 at the last election.
Trimble said they can still draw back from "this damaging row" and they
must have their arguments "behind closed doors".
Monday's ruling means that the Anti-Agreement MPs are once again members
of the Ulster Unionist Party. A disciplinary hearing has been scheduled
to take place on July 17.
McGUINNESS WARNS OF 'DIRE
The Belfast Agreement will be "in dire straits" if the devolved institutions
are not restored by the first anniversary of their suspension on October
14th, Sinn FÈin chief negotiator Mr. Martin McGuinness warned today.
Speaking during a visit to London, McGuinness urged British Prime Minister
Tony Blair to call elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly as a matter
of urgency in order to restore momentum to the peace process.
And he called on UUP leader Mr. David Trimble to show "leadership" by
selling the Agreement more enthusiastically to the unionist community in
order to counter the arguments of the DUP and "rejectionists" within his
McGuinness said he hoped Trimble would emerge triumphant from the current
power struggles in the UUP and believed Mr. Jeffrey Donaldson's decision
to resign the party whip meant he was unlikely ever to lead the Ulster
But he said that whoever led the UUP in future would have to come to
terms with the fact that the Belfast Agreement was "the only show in town".
McGuinness said: "The decision to postpone the elections by Tony
Blair effectively disempowers the pro-Agreement parties and it is absolutely
vital and essential that the British Prime Minister recognizes that these
elections should take place in the autumn of this year. If we see a situation
whereby the suspension of the institutions, or the cancellation of the
elections which does not provide then for the establishment of an Assembly
and Executive, goes past the one-year anniversary in October, I think the
Good Friday Agreement will be in dire straits."
"I think there is a huge responsibility on everyone here in England
and in Westminster to make it clear to the British Prime Minister that
these elections need to take place as a matter of urgency."
The postponement of elections had created "a dangerous power vacuum
that could be filled by those who are not well- disposed to the peace process"
in both the unionist and republican camps, warned Mr. McGuinness.
On the republican side, these anti-Agreement groups were `microscopic`,
he said, adding that he believed they also represented a minority of unionists.
"It is inconceivable to me that we are going to allow what is effectively
a minority within our political equation to dictate the pace of events,"
McGuinness said that even those unionists who proclaimed their support
for the Agreement had been `lukewarm` in their public comments about it
since it was signed five years ago.
It was "not unreasonable" to expect Trimble and his supporters to go
out and promote the Agreement enthusiastically and to tell their communities
that they believe Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams to be a man of peace,
He hoped and believed that Trimble or someone with a similar agenda
would emerge from the current in-fighting as leader.
But he added: "Whoever is leader of the UUP, we will deal with them.
But more importantly, whoever is leader of the UUP will have to deal with
an international treaty called the Good Friday Agreement. We have been
told by the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach that there is going
to be no renegotiation of that Agreement."
"We have heard from the White House that their view is that the Good
Friday Agreement is the only show in town. So, whoever is leader of the
party, whether it is Jeffrey Donaldson or anyone else - and I have to say
that I believe it is unlikely to be Jeffrey Donaldson - will have to deal
with the reality of the situation that there can be no rowing away from
the type of change the Good Friday Agreement heralded when it was endorsed
by the people of Ireland five years ago."
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